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Tweeting in Class – Not Yet

I’ve been on Twitter for close to five years. I joined right after they went big at SXSW March of 2007. In that time I surpassed 24,000 tweets, a combination of personal and professional. But it was a couple of years before I decided to try Twitter in my classes.I’m still not to the point where I will require my students to tweet for class, but I do see value in using it as an alert system. Although I’m not finding many students who are on Twitter already or find following my class account of interest. But it was easy to set up and use, so I continue to do it.

Here’s how I use Twitter in the class. I teach online, so I communicate often with students by posting announcements to the class blog. Previously I’ve used WordPress as the class blog, so it was easy to add a plugin that automatically tweets every new posts on the blog. I figured that if students followed the class Twitter account (@DrCoop for ENG101, @ENG102 & @ENH295), they could get quick updates when I posted a new announcement without having to check the blog. I probably rendered this feature pointless when I set up email subscriptions on the blog as well. Instead of tweets as updates, they can get the actual blog post delivered to their preferred email account. So I get very few takers on my Twitter updates.

But I haven’t given up the idea that one day students will find these Twitter updates useful, so I continue to find ways to keep Twitter automatically updating when I post announcements. Maricopa will be moving to a new LMS next fall, so I’ve been playing around with it and teaching 3 classes in it this semester. Just for fun, I figured out a way to get Twitter to autopost my announcements from Canvas, although this is completely pointless, as Canvas already emails students when you post new announcements. At this point I’m just experimenting for fun, not function. I set up an IFTTT (If This Then That). Basically you can create tasks that happen after a certain trigger (when something happens (this) then do something else (that)). So I set up a “when a new post happens on Canvas then tweet a link to the post.”

It works great, but presently IFTTT only allows for you to connect one Twitter account, so I can only do this for one class. They did tweet to say they would be offering that option soon, but I don’t foresee tweeting in this manner a useful feature of my online classes. Not yet.


Hey! What Are You Doing Here? (6 Hours Accountability)

It’s time to address the usual greeting I get when my co-workers in the English department see me in the 05 Building on campus. “Hey! What are you doing here?” I hear it just about every day. I don’t get this response elsewhere on campus because I have a pretty good track record for meeting my college obligations. If there’s a committee meeting, I’m there. But I don’t spend much time in one spot, and my office doesn’t get much use. Well, not the 6-8 hours a day use that some offices get. I’m not into sitting anywhere for too long. I’m not learning anything new sitting in my office, so I like to get out and do stuff. I would rather be on a hiring committee than sit in my office and do nothing, but don’t tell too many people that. I’ve been at GCC for only 3 years, and I’ve already been on four hiring committees. Crazy.

My point is there is so much to do and learn and so many people to talk to and learn from that if you limit yourself  to one small space on campus or the district for that matter, you’re missing out on many opportunities to make a difference for your students, the college and the district. “A rolling stone grows no moss.” Although I like the analogy of a snowball that is rolled around in the snow to make the base of a snowman better. That’s me, always moving and learning and teaching and sharing and growing. My knowledge and experience grows by interacting with as many people, projects and ideas as possible.

Here’s a brief snapshot of all that I’m involved in currently in and outside of Maricopa. I currently serve as an assistant chair/eCourses coordinator for the English Department and work with faculty to create and/or improve their online/hybrid courses. I also evaluate all online/hybrid instructors and courses in the English department. I serve on the eCourse Committee and the CTLE Advisory Committee on campus. As part of the duties of this last committee, I’m currently serving on a hiring committee to hire a Coordinator of Technology Training for the CTLE. For eCourses, I just volunteered to help create an eCourses Student Orientation (what was I thinking?).

I serve on a district committee, Academic Technology Alliance (ATA), that meets monthly in addition to smaller subcommittee activities. The main objective of the ATA is to identify and strategically implement effective learning technologies across all ten colleges in the district. I’m on a subcommittee looking at Reusable Learning Object creation tools, like Softchalk. I’m a Quality Matters certified reviewer and conduct QM reviews on hybrid and online courses in the district. I’m currently reviewing a Lit class at SCC. I’m also working on a district learning grant that helps online and hybrid instructors infuse Challenged Based Learning modules into the freshman composition curriculum. I’m a member of the Teaching & Learning with Technology Conference Planning Team currently planning the conference for this May. In addition, I work with the National Center for Teacher Education (NCTE) at the district as a technology trainer on two grants: The Achieving Technological Literacy in Arizona for Students and Teachers (ATLAST) and Student and Teacher Technology Transformation Teams (ST4).

Outside the district, I serve on the advisory group for the ELI 7 Things publication and conduct webinars and in person workshops on Blended Course Design, Social Media and Cloud Based Technologies for Academic Impressions.

Whew, I’m tired just from typing all that. Sometimes I feel like I need a secretary to keep it all straight, but I seem to manage. I’d rather be busy than bored. So when my colleagues in the English department jokingly greet me with “Hey! What are you doing here?” I just grin and say “I work here,” but truth be told I’m there to hang out with them. I work with an awesome group of teachers, and I love learning from and collaborating with them too. I never have trouble meeting my six hours of accountability, I just have a difficult time doing it in one spot.



Role of the Online Teacher (6 Hours Accountability)

Image from

Today was a typical Monday for an online teacher, at least typical in the sense of how I like to have my Mondays go. I literally sat at my home office desk for 11 hours straight, and I got so much done. I wouldn’t want to spend every day like this, but today was a day that clearly defined what online teaching is all about. There are many important elements that need to be managed to have a successful online class. Here are a few of the important things that need to accomplished.


  • Weekly podcasts – Having an audio and/or video announcement at the start of each week to get students started with the week’s work. You can make connections in the readings and assignments, clarify current readings and assignments, and personalize the course. Using audio and video is important to me because it gives the course a face and a voice. And as Jill Schiefelbeing (@impromptuguru) would say, it gives the online class a “human touch.”
  • Grading – feedback is a powerful motivator. “Extrinsic motivation is motivation to perform and succeed for the sake of accomplishing a specific result or outcome. Students who are very grade-oriented are extrinsically motivated” (Kirk, 2012). I feel it’s very motivating for students to grade their work in a timely manner, but also it’s important to give feedback on the work. This can be the most challenging part of teaching. Most of today was spent grading, writing feedback, and challenging students to do more. I have some great tools to help with that. I’m using Cengage’s InSite with TurnItIn tools and rubrics, McGraw-Hill’s new Connect Composition 2.0 with a great diagnostic, personalized learning plans and online handbook, and Canvas LMS with their rubrics. All these tools make keeping up with the grading a lot easier than in past semesters.
  • Interactions – Often the missing part in online classes is student/student and student/teacher interactions. Last week I invited students to call and talk through research proposals with me if they didn’t have their proposals approved yet. I got four calls today and four students approved. Two other students called to work through problems they were having with the technology. I also spent some time reading and adding comments in the discussion forums in ENG101 and ENH295, but I try not to make that the only interactions students have. Last week’s assignment in ENG101 asked students to share rhetorical terms in a Google Doc to create a glossary for the class. This week I’m encouraging them to go back in and pick their favorite terms based on how well the student explained the function of the term. To pick a term, they have to leave a comment explaining how the poster made the term easy to understand. Today I had to go in an organize the document to make sure it was ready for this activity.
  • Mechanics – Even though the site worked when you put it together, it’s always good practice to revisit at the start of each week to make sure everything still works. I like to review each class from the perspective of a student and anticipate areas where students might need extra help. I usually have some students who get started early, and they are usually not shy about pointing out things that are not clear. Today I only had one such issue, where an embedded Google Doc form was not displaying results like I thought it would. I also rewrote a few instructions on a few assignments in Canvas and created a new rubric for an assignment in InSite. Everything is ready to go.

That doesn’t seem like much, but with four online courses and one hybrid, it can take up a good chunk of time. And after 11 hours, I still didn’t get it all done. Tomorrow I will have to find time to create the weekly podcast for ENG102 online and the hybrid online class. Everything else is ready in those courses. It’s the instructor that makes a successful online course. You can’t just build it and expect it to run itself.


Professional Growth Important for 6 Hours Accountability

TechTools Program

One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that I get many opportunities to continue my education. I feel like I’m going to school to learn just like my students. To be successful in your profession continued professional growth is a necessity and should be encouraged. Maricopa does a good job of affording us these opportunities. We have learning grants, sabbaticals, travel funds, district dialogue days and technology workshops available. We have faculty developers, instructional designers and technologists on every campus to plan, train and work with faculty. I make it a habit to take advantage of as many opportunities as I can squeeze in.

Today was a great event that I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to participate in for the past 3 years: TechTools at Scottsdale Community College. Each year I volunteer to present, so this year I was on a panel discussion on social media in education. My focus was on using social media in the classroom. We had a pretty good turn out for that session. The best part, however, was getting to listen to Jill Schiefelbein’s keynote presentation: The Human Touch. Jill, online instructor from ASU & CGCC and owner of Impromptu Guru, shared with us different strategies for uniting communication and technology for an added human touch in online classes. Her talk should be required viewing for all online instructors.

I was able to sit in on two other sessions that day: one on Canvas, our new LMS for next fall and another titled Secrets of the Technology Club presented by a virtual Maria Andersen. Both were informative sessions that I’m glad I got a chance to participate in. Five hours went by fast (8:30-1:30pm), but my day of learning didn’t end after this event. Today was also the day for the monthly CyberSalon gathering, and the afternoon’s agenda including different people sharing how they’ve been using Canvas. So after an hour hanging out with colleagues at SCC and grading papers (online office hour), we were off to CyberSalon for 2+ more bonus hours of professional growth. It was truly a great day.

It’s not realistic to think that everyday’s 6 hours of accountability can be like today, but it’s nice to be able to find a balance between teaching and learning. And this is clearly defined in the RFP. So after a week, I’ve managed to meet more than 6 hours of accountability each day and include all 3 areas outlined in the RFP.

Instructional Residential Faculty members are required to meet the thirty (30) hours of professional responsibilities per week.

  • to meet all classes as scheduled;
  • to hold a minimum of five (5) scheduled academic support hours reflective of instructors’ teaching schedules; and
  • to participate in department, division, college, and/or district activities as defined in Section 1.2.20.;

Tuesday is for On Campus Teaching

I have a hybrid learning community class on Tuesdays. Yes, you read that right. It’s a learning community with ENG102 and CRE101, and my class is hybrid (Tuesday only). The class meets without me on Thursdays for Critical Reading.  So I’m in class from 10-12:45pm on Tuesday. First for my own class, and then for Cindy Ortega’s CRE101 class. I haven’t team taught in many years, although it’s a stretch to call it team teaching. It’s really more collaborative teaching, but it’s working really well. It takes a lot of time to get the coordination down and to see the connections in both classes, but it’s helping to sit in on both classes. I feel like I’m being schooled with all the active learning techniques Cindy whips out each day. You’d be surprised, or not, at how close the two classes are aligned. I’m surprised we don’t have more learning communities like this one.

Cindy and I have scheduled collaboration sessions on Thursdays, but we’ve been doing a little extra touching base on Tuesday mornings before class. I have an office hour from 9-10am, and as anticipated, I don’t get many student visitors (0 so far), so this time doesn’t go to waste. We went over some things for class, and I created a Pop Quiz in Canvas. I wanted to see if the students were doing their scheduled online class activities. Days like Tuesday are easy for accountability. 9-10am office hour, 10-12:45pm in class, and 1-2pm I’m in the Writing Center helping students with writing assignments if they don’t stand me up. I’m still there even when they don’t show up or sign up, which was the case on this Tuesday. By the time I make my way back to my office, check in with a few people, it’s 3pm, and my 6 hours of accountability are fulfilled.

You don’t think I went home do you? Of course not! The people I work with like to talk. I swear I spent an hour trying to convince a colleague that it probably wasn’t appropriate for me to go to the national TESOL conference, especially since I didn’t even know what TESOL stood for. I have to say it was a good sell, but I declined. Since my Monday schedule was off, I still had to make up the two podcasts for my online courses. I whipped out the Week 3 Weekly Podcast for my ENG102 course with a few brief interruptions, mostly people standing in my door with surprised looks on their face, followed by “You’re here. What are you doing here?” Hey! I work here. Well, I’m trying. And I can take a hint.

At 5pm I decided it was time to go home, as I appeared to be “the last man standing.” And it seemed like an appropriate time to leave work. Not sure why, but Tuesday was a cool “8 hours of accountability” none the less. I’ve got an overage of 3.5 hours. I wonder if there is any way to cash in on that on, say Friday. Hmmm….

Read More in this Series


Crazy Mondays – Project 6 Hours Accountability

The first two weeks of the semester are just crazy, and there is no way I want to write down all that I do to make my courses successful during that time. It’s just too much work. So week 3 seems more like a better place to start to give people a picture of what it is like to teach online in Maricopa. I like to think of my Mondays as online days. I don’t want to be bothered with meetings on campus or any other work related stuff that doesn’t directly link to my teaching. If I had my way, I’d stay home all day and work in my pajamas on Mondays, but I don’t have my way. So here’s the run down for Monday of Week 3.

At 8:30am, I logged onto Canvas on my home PC and started grading my ENG102 online assignments. They had two assignments due on Sunday by midnight. One was an assignment uploaded to Canvas; the second was an assignment completed in Diigo. I worked for 2.5 hours grading those assignments. The Diigo assignment takes more time because it’s not a traditional assignment. I have to check 10 bookmarked links per student. This is a double class (2 online in one) with 42 students. I was able to finish grading both assignments in 2.5 hours only because not all of the students did both assignments. During this process, in Canvas, I can send out messages to students who didn’t complete the assignment, reminding them that they can still do it for 10% off. I try to make these messages sound encouraging – “You can do it. Don’t give up.”

I also answered emails and a few text messages during this time. This is the hardest part to keep track of. Well, actually Google (Gmail/Voice) does a great job of keeping track of all the emails and texts I get from students, but for me to actually put a time on what I spend responding, that’s difficult. I’m going to go with a straight 1 minute per text, and students never send just one. There’s always follow up, and of course, I don’t want to be rude, so I always respond back with “You’re welcome” after they’ve thank me for being so accessible.

Moving on the the afternoon. I had a 12pm Hiring Committee Meeting on campus, so I sat around and reviewed internal applicants for the technology training position on campus until 1:45pm. While doing that, I answered two emails and 1 text message from students. We shall call this double accountability.

My normal Monday morning usually includes creating Weekly Podcasts for all 4 online courses, so I spent from 2-5pm doing that in my office at school. Since I was at school, I used my iMac to create video podcasts for ENG102/CRE101 hybrid and ENH295 online using iMovie. I will have to do my ENG101 and ENG102 online classes tomorrow morning, as I ran out of time. Campus is a ghost town after 5pm.

So let’s talk about why it takes my 3 hours to create to video podcasts that are between 5-8 minutes long. At home I could probably do it in 2 hours, but here, well my door is open, and people come in. It’s very social at work, so I’m interrupted several times during my process, and it takes time to get back into the editing flow. I don’t mind, but it takes time. If my job paid me for my time to do my job, I’m sure I’d be required to close my door and shut the world out so I can work. Also the network on campus is slow. The time it takes to upload a video to YouTube seems like it’s double.

Monday: 7.5 hours of accountability

Read more in the series:  Project 6 Hours Accountability – New Blog Series


Project 6 Hours Accountability – New Blog Series

There’s been a lot of talk in the district recently about faculty accountability, especially on my campus (GCC).  Some of the talk is positive, and some could be construed as negative. There is the belief that with the change in the way we deliver instruction that our hours of accountability might also change to meet the needs of our new teaching and/or delivery method. On the other hand, some interpret 6 hours as 6 hours of face time on campus, preferably in the classroom and your office. So at GCC we formed the new Faculty Roles & Responsibilities Committee to discuss issues of  equitable faculty committee assignments, hours of accountability, and office hours that reflect the needs of our students.  In the most recent meeting the committee tried to clarify faculty adherence to the Residential Faculty Policies (RFP). I’ve been in the district for 13 years and I’d never even read the RFP, so I didn’t have much of an opinion at first. But after I started looking at the way I teach and work within Maricopa, I could see how people might not see how I meet my hours of accountability. I decided to spend this semester exploring “6 Hours Accountability” from the view point of a fulltime online/hybrid instructor.

To start, I read section 5.4. Accountability/Professional Responsibilities in our RFP. Riveting stuff. It begins:

Instructional Residential Faculty members are required to meet the thirty (30) hours of professional responsibilities per week.

  • to meet all classes as scheduled;
  • to hold a minimum of five (5) scheduled academic support hours reflective of instructors’ teaching schedules; and
  • to participate in department, division, college, and/or district activities as defined in Section 1.2.20.;

First, where does 6 hours a day even come from? Someone for sure made that up. I think the RFP is easy enough to understand. Meet all classes as scheduled does not designate a location, so an online class is online 24/7. If I go online and teach my class on a daily basis, I’m covered there. I’m sure “daily” will come up at some point, but for now it’s a skip. Holding a minimum of five scheduled academic support hours seems easy enough, but it’s the next part where people have had trouble: reflective of instructors’ teaching schedules. So if I teach online, that should mean I can hold online office hours or if you teach a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, your office hours should be on MWF. That’s how I read that. But then this statement is added:  “All faculty shall meet their hours of accountability/professional responsibilities within the parameters of the day program as defined in Section 1.2.3. unless initially hired under different circumstances or amended by mutual consent.” This means that all office hours and other activities should be done during the day; I presume 8-5pm. That really doesn’t apply for all faculty, although I do hold online office hours in the morning and at night. Should we ignore the fact that many of our students work during the day after class and study at night?

The last part is my favorite. Maricopa is a big district, and why should we limit ourselves to just one campus when we can be involved anywhere in the district. Hey, the RFP supports that: participate in department, division, college, and/or district activities. So who’s job is it to keep track of everyone? The person assigned to me would have to request of weekly agenda or follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty sure that’s what my Department Chair does.

This spring 2012 I really want to explore this notion of “6 hours of accountability” in Maricopa. I’ve been lucky that my Department Chair respects the faculty in her department enough to let us do our jobs and not lay her interpretation of the RFP down with expectations of what she thinks we should be doing. She expects that we will do our jobs and honor the RFP, and most of us do. Hey, I can’t vouch for everyone. The blog posts in this series (Category: 6 Hours) will demonstrate not only how teaching has changed, but how our responsibilities to our students and our campus have also changed. And most importantly these post will reflect how this new approach to teaching may not fit in with what some people are used to in their interpretation of the RFP.


Black Out: Writing about Real Issues in Composition Courses

This post was initially posted on the Glendale Community College Blog on January 18, 2012.

In the ENG102: Freshman Composition courses I teach, I require students to write argumentative essays on topics about personal freedoms. I do this because I find it a perfect opportunity to not only teach the competencies of researching and writing arguments, but also because it gives students an opportunity to learn more about issues that affect this country and them personally. So many students live in a bubble of apathy, concerned only about the little things. This often shows up in my classes when it’s time to choose an issue to write about. But I want them to think bigger. So I’m writing this message to my students and all students currently in writing courses.

There is so much going on in this country right now. Today. Stuff that will affect every one of us, yet most Americans are ambivalent or apathetic to the world around them. We often wonder how some of these controversial laws were passed in the first place or we complain about the current government. I always ask, “Did you vote?” “Did you read the propositions before you voted on them?” It’s scary how many have not done either, and you, my students, are the biggest offenders. Two years from now, or even sooner, you’ll all be complaining about censorship of the internet because it will have changed, and the internet won’t function the way it does today. It will suck, and you will hate it. But today when you could have made a difference in the decision, you didn’t even know about it. Or tomorrow, you may be detained, interrogated and prosecuted all without a trial – effectively stripping away your right of habeas corpus. And again, your personal rights were stripped away without your knowledge or even a chance to react.

Could you have made a difference then? Can you make a difference now? Who knows, but at least trying gives us hope, makes us aware, and gives us the power of the people. And that is what education is about, giving students the opportunity to learn about the world we live in, but also how to be a participant in this world, in our country. For Freshman Composition, this is why we learn to write, so we can have a voice. Once you graduate, you’re never going to be asked to write a comparison/contrast essay again, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to write your representatives to argue your position on a new bill. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to write an argumentative blog post, like this one, to share with others the injustices of the current legislation or a proposed bill. Writing, and writing well, gives us a voice.

So instead of wanting to research and argue trite issues like abortion or the death penalty, wake up and pay attention to what’s going on right now. The National Defense Authorization Act passed recently by President Obama puts a damper on your precious civil liberties. Do you care?  How about SOPA? The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) could effectively change the way the internet works today. People on the internet are reacting. What do you have to say about it? Sounds like a great ENG102 research argument paper to me. By the way, don’t bother searching Wikipedia for information on any of these topics because today, in protest to SOPA, Wikipedia and other internet sites have gone BLACK. Check out the screencapture from Wikipedia for today (Jan. 18th and again on Jan. 23 Only). Find out why.

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Followup on the Texting Students Question

While answering a tech question earlier in the week, I discovered an existing app on my Android phone that allows me to send one text message to a group of people, students in this case. You can read, Tech Question of the Week: Group Texting here. The app was Go SMS Pro. We ran into a slight problem in the testing phase. The new question now is “how do I send a message “from” my Google Voice number in Go SMS. I never considered this because I’m always replying back to students. I never initiate the text, and there is no issue with that. So before I answer that question, first a bit more information about Go SMS and Google Voice. Essentially the way Go SMS works is you use it in place of your stock sms program, and it will handle any and all sms/mms messages coming into your phone. It will take messages from your regular cell phone number and from your Google Voice number and put them in the Go SMS program. When you send a message out from Go SMS, it uses the numbers you have in your existing address book and sends from your regular cell phone number. There is no obvious way to send it from a Google Voice number. However, the way that Google Voice works actually eliminates this problem. Here’s an explanation from Whitson Gordon at Lifehacker.

The number from which you received that text is the number through which Google Voice routes communication with that contact. We’ll call it their “alternate number”. If you text this number back, they’ll receive that text on their phone—and it will have come from your Google Voice number instead of your phone’s number. Add that number to your contacts as “Mobile 2” (or something similar) for that person. That way, when they send a text to your [Google] Voice number, you’ll be able to see that it’s from them, and not from some number you don’t know.

So what that means is that the way Google Voice works is it creates a new 406 or 976 number for everyone who calls or texts you (I’ve actually seen other numbers used as well). This 406 or 976 number replaces their real phone number. So if I text you a message to your GV number. Pretend my cellphone number is 1-(555) 123-4567. When GV forwards the text to your cellphone, it will seem as if it is coming from 1-(406) 123-4567 or 1-(976) 123-4567. This 406 (or) 976 number will be linked to my phone number 1-(555) 123-4567. So each time you call or text that number (from a cellphone attached to your GV), it will show as if the call is coming from your GV number.

Walla! There’s the answer. Okay, it’s not that easy, but what that means is you have to have ALL your students text your first before you can add them to a group and send a group text message to them. That really sucks, but it’s not impossible. It’s actually a good way to allow students to opt into receiving text messages from you. Here’s what you can do. Email or print out a message to all of your students telling them to opt into receiving text messages by sending you a text to (602) XXX-XXXX (Your GV number). Tell them to text something like: “Add Angela Jones to text reminders please” or just their name would work.  Then go into Google Voice online and add all of the new text messages to your contacts list, and create a group at the same time. This is very easy to do on the website. Make sure you add the GV number and not their real number, as you will be able to see both. You will be able to tell which is which because the GV number will be a weird combination or the 403 or 976.

So there you go. This would work great in a face to face class because you can have them all text you right there at the same time, and all those messages will be grouped together in your inbox when you go to add them. And I highly recommend adding names to the numbers in your contacts. I didn’t do that this semester it’s hard getting texts from students when you don’t know who it is. I’ll never skip that step again.


To Tablet or Not to Tablet


So I broke down and bought another tablet a few weeks ago. This time I opted for the Android version and bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab. I’d always thought the 10.1 inch was pretty sleek and sexy, but it just seemed too big. The 7 inch was just too small, but when the 8.9 version came out, I was sold. So far I’m pretty happy with my purchase.

Now I learned from my first foray into tablet land that this was not going to be a work device. It’s just way too difficult to do anything work related on this thing. For instance, I’m typing this post on the Tab right now. Even though I have Swype, it’s still difficult to type quickly. It’s kind of frustrating. I’m party sure I can type faster on my Thunderbolt. In fact, I find myself abandoning the Tab in lieu of the Thunderbolt to answer a quick email. Then back to the Tab for what I bought it for.

So what do I do on this thing? Lots! Mostly I check up on social media sites. The widgets on this thing are good for that. I also like to read my RSS feeds. I have several apps for that. You can see my favorites in the photo above. I have all my Kindle books synced with the Tab, so I often read books on it. But I really prefer reading on the actual Kindle. No tablet will ever replace the Kindle. I’m not much of a TV or movie watcher but HD video looks great on this thing. I’ve been watching more Netfix and Amazon Prime movies. I’ve even delved into the realm of torrents. As you can see, this is pretty much a media consumption device. Other than taking a few screen capture shots, I really don’t use it to take pictures or movies. I might try it at some point, but for now I’ll just stick with what I’m presently doing. It works for me.